Undertow" is the debut album by the American progressive/alternative metal band, Tool.
The full - length debut album is said to have kept the life of all heavy metal in the mainstream media due to it's success. "Undertow" is also the cause of Tool's undeniable later success, being that their debut EP, "Opiate" was not as highly regarded, and did not get them critical reception. Although Tool's later albums, including "Ænima" and "Lateralus", Undertow still remains one of the most highly regarded progressive metal albums of all time.
Opening up the album is the first track, 'Intolerance'. The song starts with quiet swooshing synth noises, until the heavy guitar riffs come in to take the stage. The vocal value takes a slight decline in the beggining, ranging from too weak to way too over the top, but the chords and riffs remain excellent throughout. The track gets faster in the middle of the song, and a great heavy bridge leads to the end of the song. A More weak track from the album, but still great. (8/10)
2. Prison Sex
'Prison Sex' is the 2nd single from the album. Starting out with metallic noises, the song amps up with some fast and heavy guitar chords. The bass is getting more and more noticable as the album progresses, however the drums are getting less noticable. The vocals are slightly too loud over the other instruments, but are still great. The song is noticably more heavy, and gets more instrumental time. And the vocals are also in a good key. A nice track from the album. (9/10)
'Sober' is the first single from the album, and also the most highly regarded. The song starts out with an extremely heavy bass chords, and an amazing drum riff leads into the main song. As the song progresses, the drums, bass, and guitar all seem to work as one instrument, and shift into separate ones during the choruses until inevitably joining up again. The vocals are absolutely spectacular in this song, and very nice to the ears. Unlike other songs from the album, 'Sober' is able to be listened to at any time, in any mood, and in any place. Amazing song, and my favorite from the album. (10/10)
A more subtle and heavy track then it's former songs, 'Bottom' takes the third track on the album. There is no slow moments in the song- in fact, every part of the song is nice and constant. Changes are done when they are needed, and the riffs remain heavy. The drumming is nice and catchy, however the bass is less noticable. A nice, catchy song. (9/10)
5. Crawl Away
Starting with the faint sound of a band playing, 'Crawl Away''s guitar quickly comes in at a fast pace. As the guitar continues, we are suddenly blasted with heavier riffs then we are used to. The guitar remains in the lead, until the bass ultimately takes over. The song is an awesome battle between bass and guitar, while the vocals and drums are taking over the backround noise. An amazing song, and definitely one of my favorites. (10/10)
6. Swamp Song
'Swamp Song' brings us an almost completely instrument ruled song. The lyrics seem to just blend in with the instruments so much it doesn't seem to be there, just adding to the noise. However, this does not make the song un-enjoyable. In fact, it makes the song have a certain flow, giving it a nice, catchy feel. Another great song from the album. (10/10)
Unlike the other heavy songs on the album, 'Undertow' seems to just have a more dulled down version of the chords. In fact, the production they used seems to be the same they used in 'Sober'. Except in 'Sober', it fit in well. In this song it seems oddly misplaced. Besides that, the vocals are nice and vivid, the drumming and guitar are great also. The lack here is the base, it just seems to be alongside the drums and not playing it's own part. (8.5/10)
8. 4 Degrees
'4 Degrees' is another vocal dominated song, just like 'Undertow', and the other instruments seem to be backround sounds in some places. Unlike 'Undertow', the bridge is absolutely excellent, however the song starts to get quite repetitive. Not much else to say about it. Great, but not the best. (9/10)
A slower track, with more drum and guitar domination, 'Flood' comes in with nice echoey vocals, and nice heavy chords. Where the song has it's errors is that the bridge drags on too long. The bass is the only upside to keep you interested during it. The vocals are basic and sort of bland, until the chorus, which is an excellent piece of Tool vocal work. A nice, but slightly weak song. (8/10)
I don't even know what to say about this finale. Should it even be considered music? I think it is a great work in experimenting with different sounds, but definitely not something to close out nice heavy album like "Undertow". It is an absolutely useless symphony of weird echoey sounds, sheep, radio voices, whistles, and hammers. Not to mention- this song drags on for (15:47). That is just to long for a song that is mostly dominated by annoying mind bending whistles. Other than the whistling, the song has less than a minute of nonsensical lyrics and random sound beats. An awful droning, repetitive ending to the album. In fact, it got so annoying that I couldn't even listen to it anymore. Definitely not worth listening to. (2/10)
Overall, Tool's debut album was definitely the cause of Tool's undeniable rise in popularity. And we can all agree, "Undertow" saved metal's asses when it was starting to fall in numbers of listeners. All later and greater albums have to give credit to "Undertow", for making it possible for Tool to continue on what they do best-make metal music.
Thanks for reading, and I hope you enjoyed! If you have any questions or opinions, I would be delighted to hear them. Just post them in the comments or just send me a message if you need to. Thanks! -VU-